Paternity must be legally established in order to determine who should be providing financial child support
or who should have child custody
and visitation rights
. Read below to find out more about how to establish paternity in California.
Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?
Advantages to establishing paternity include:
- Identification of both parents through legal documentation
- Putting the name of both parents on the birth certificate
- Providing access to family medical records and history
- Health and life insurance coverage from both parents
- Inheritance rights from either parent
- Rights to social security or veteran’s benefits
- Ability of the father to sign releases and permission forms for the child
When a Couple Is Married
The court will assume that the husband of the mother is the father of a child unless parentage is contested within the first two years of a child’s life. If another man impregnates a married woman, he has rights to establish paternity within those first two years. In some cases, a court may favor a stable marriage over a father’s biological ties to the child. A man who has a child with a married woman risks not being part of the child’s life. The husband of a woman who has given birth can also ask for a paternity test regardless of the child's age.
When a Couple Is Not Married
If a man has been living with a child in a family-like situation, and has shown commitment to that child, he may be assumed to be the father. If there is no family-type relationship established, a paternity test is necessary for the court to issue child support, custody, and visitation orders.
When the Man and Woman Agree on Parentage
If both parties agree on parentage, they can establish paternity by signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP) form. To be valid, it must be signed by both parents. It may be signed at the hospital or at a later date. If a birth certificate has already been issued, a new one may be created with the father’s name on it. Once the VDP is signed, a father has visitation, legal and physical custody rights, and financial responsibilities.
Establishing Paternity Through the Court
Parentage may be established through the court at the request of either parent. However, this process can be more complex and time-consuming than a voluntary acceptance of paternity. In California, the following people have legal standing to obtain a paternity order:
- Child’s mother (or the mother of an unborn child)
- Man who believes he is the father
- Adoption agency
- Child support agency
- Child who is 12 or older
If a man refuses to cooperate with a paternity process, the court may assume his non-cooperation is evidence of paternity. The court process will involve the submission of a petition, which legally establishes the facts for the paternity action. A pre-trial hearing will evaluate the situation and determine if a trial is necessary. Genetic testing may be done in order to determine if the man is biologically linked to the child. In the end, a trial may be held so that both sides can present whether or not they feel a man should be considered the father of a child. A court will issue an order regarding paternity as well as the rights and obligations of the father
Contact a Fresno Paternity Lawyer Today
If you have questions about how to establish paternity in California, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks
or call (559)222-4891